Choosing a Boyfriend is NOT The Same as Choosing a Husband

Choosing a Boyfriend is NOT The Same as Choosing a Husband

My client, Leslie, asked me recently, “When did you ‘just know’ that it was right with your wife? When were you able to tell for sure that she was ‘the one’?”

After a brief pause, I said, in all seriousness:

“Six months after we were married.”

Leslie was stunned.

After all, she comes from a culture that is all about undeniable feelings, Hollywood fantasies, and powerful mythology surrounding the notion of love.

You probably do, too.

Like it or not, dating is ALWAYS an extended audition, with both parties consistently gathering information and assessing their futures, up until they reach the altar.

Right now, I’m going to blow your notion away — not because I feel like killing your dreams, but because your dreams are holding you back from finding true happiness.

Look back on your life.

How many times did you “just know” that a man was “the one?”

How many times did he actually turn out to BE “the one?”

The defense rests, your honor.

So if we can be wildly misguided in our feelings, what do our feelings actually teach us?


Literally every single woman reading this has had a feeling that felt true, but turned out to be false.

Maybe he freaked out after three intense months together.

Maybe he enjoyed your company but never actually saw himself marrying you.

Maybe he turned out to be a liar, drug addict, or serial cheater.

These are things that you couldn’t have known on date one.

The only way you could have learned them was to keep your eyes open and keep open to the possibility that you don’t “just know” anything.

There’s always new information pouring in that should inform your decisions.

And if it comes as a shock when a guy suddenly dumps you, it shouldn’t. Because YOU also reserve the right to change your mind as time goes by.

You don’t fall in love with every guy you meet.

You may determine that he’s financially irresponsible or not a good father figure.

You may determine that the attraction isn’t there and that you need to feel more.

The point is that you can only figure this stuff out over the course of TIME.

Which is why, like it or not, dating is ALWAYS an extended audition, with both parties consistently gathering information and assessing their futures, up until they reach the altar.

This is not a crime. This is not selfish. This is smart. This is practical. This is what prevents us from making huge mistakes and marrying the wrong people.

If a man dumps you after two years, it’s because he felt it would be a mistake to marry you and THEN want to dump you. That’s a GOOD decision.

And vice versa. Whether you break up with a man after a week or a year, you’ve come to the conclusion that he’s not the right guy for you, which frees him up to find the woman of his dreams. Another good decision.

The reason I’m writing this blog post is that every day I talk to private clients who make two colossal mistakes when it comes to assessing men.

I’m guessing you do the same.

1) You fall in love with a guy within a few weeks, then spend 6 months trying to preserve that feeling, EVEN WHEN HE TREATS YOU LIKE CRAP.

This is a classic case of “you just know” being really misleading. All you know is that you’re intoxicated by him — what you seem to ignore is that he’s a terrible partner who doesn’t treat you with kindness or consistency and has absolutely no desire for a future with you.

2) You think that you MUST know in a short period of time whether he’s the one. And if you don’t have that “feeling,” you move on.

Bad call.

Here’s why.

Choosing a boyfriend is NOT the same as choosing a husband.

And you need to stop making it feel that way right now.

If you take your profile down to focus on a promising new man — even if you don’t have butterflies — it’s not a mistake.

You’re giving a new relationship a chance to grow and breathe.

If you give it a chance and it doesn’t feel right after a month or two or three, you move on, gracefully.

But if you refuse to give any new relationship a chance unless you have that “you just know” feeling, you will find yourself devastated over and over, because clearly you DON’T just know…

Stop thinking that just because you call a man your boyfriend that he HAS to be your husband.

Plus, you’ll never get to see what it’s like to enjoy the act of discovery that comes with merely committing to try on a new relationship.

I’ve often said, “If you’re always moving, you can’t build anything.”

And if you never give a guy a shot unless he takes your breath away, you are destroying your chances for lasting love.

It’s no secret. I wasn’t blown away by my wife. She wasn’t blown away either.

The entire time we were dating I was happy, but I questioned the relationship because it wasn’t what I thought it was supposed to look like.

When I finally proposed, I made an educated guess: I’d learned so much from my dating coaching practice, that I felt I’d be making a huge mistake if I let her go… just to find someone a few years younger with a similar background.

So was I SURE that we were “meant to be” and “soulmates” and all that?


But I was sure about this:

Every relationship where I was sure in the past blew up in my face.

This relationship was, by far, the easiest, healthiest, warmest one I’d ever had.

And if it didn’t meet what I THOUGHT it was supposed to feel like, that just meant that my EXPECTATIONS were WRONG.

Not the relationship.

My expectations.

Your expectations.

Of how it’s “supposed” to feel.

Were wrong.

I took a leap of faith based on my knowledge as a dating coach.

But you don’t have to. You can learn from what I’m sharing here.

I’m now 39 and happily married.

We own a big house in the San Fernando Valley.

We have a ten-month old daughter who makes us smile every day.

We’re having a New Year’s Eve karaoke party for couples in a few days.

And we both giggle when we think how easy it would have been to pass each other up, merely because we didn’t meet each other’s preconceived image of perfection.

Starting today:

– Stop falling in love with men you barely know. You need YEARS to really assess his worthiness as a life partner.

– Stop giving a free pass to men who give you that FEELING. Chances are, that FEELING allows you to ignore a TON of red flags.

– Stop thinking that just because you call a man your boyfriend that he HAS to be your husband. Dating is a 2-3 year audition — and at any point, either party has the right to break it off if he/she feels that the next 30 years would be a mistake.

– Stop thinking that you have to “just know.” Your gut has led you astray every single time. Maybe this is a good time to use your head a little bit.

Please let me know what you think of this post in the comments section below.

And if I don’t hear from you — if you’re one of the readers who lurks, but never posts – thanks for making this blog into the success it’s been.

Over 1 million people have visited in 2011 to learn more about dating, relationships, and the opposite sex, and I’m honored to be a part of the conversation.

Warmest wishes and a very Happy New Year.


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  1. 21

    Right on as usual, Evan! I love hearing your advice because you’re always on point! I think I’m definitely one of those woman waiting for the butterfly feeling all the time and have passed up some good guys because of that!

  2. 22

    HI Evan, this column rocked!   I feel as though Diana @11 and I are sisters, (i.e. attorneys going for the alpha male) except you know I am in my mid-50s, divorced after many years, with two sons with special needs and you helped me with my online dating profile and also coached me.

    I have been following your advice and your blog steadily over the past few years since our coaching finished and I am happy to say I took a leap of faith and started to date men who I was not immediately attracted to. None of my “I just knew………” dating situations had ever panned out so I decided to try what you asked me to do.

    I allowed my relationships to grow over time……There were a number of men I dated where I thought something might develop and it did not. I just kept putting myself out there in the dating world and felt that if I learned at least one thing from each man I dated, even if we only saw each other once, I became a better person because of it.   

    Enter my fiancé………he is my age, lives 1/2 hr away from me, and I am happy to say, has expanded my horizons by NOT meeting my old list of “expectations”.   He is such a wonderful man, loves me and loves my sons, and has made my life better in so many ways.   He proposed to me on Christmas night with a ring in hand, and I have you to thank for it, Evan!

    I shudder to think what I would have missed if I had insisted that the man had to meet my long list of “expectations”.

  3. 23

    I think Evan’s advice here is fabulous.   Only, not for people over, say 40.   I am 50.   I was 28 when I got divorced, for all of the wrong reasons.   If only Evan had been around when I was 30, I think my whole life would have turned out differently.

    Even though I look way younger than what I am, I know that my odds for finding someone I am interested in are slim to none.   More likely, I will find a beaten-down old badger, looking for a nurse or a purse.   I know that my odds of finding someone my age or thereabouts , that is reasonably attractive and wants a woman over 30, are slim to none.   God, I am so depressed today, because I know that it would take a miracle for me to find a man even remotely attractive.

    Evan, I know you are an atheist and I respect that, but I am grateful I am a good Catholic girl who will hopefully find better in the afterlife.

    1. 23.1

      Hi Margaret,

      I just wanted to encourage you. Do what you love. Find what makes you smile and you never know who you’ll meet. At least that has been my experience.

  4. 24

    I meant to say, I married for all of the wrong reasons.

  5. 25

    Excellent post!   I’m in a one year relationship and still don’t know…

  6. 26
    nom de plume

    18 months max for a proposal or I’m off its simple. In fact i think i’ll probably kill my own chances with any date because i start as i mean to go on. Either your both feet in or out. I don’t have time for waisting mine or anyone else’s time especially in matters of the heart, yet if i don’t get that feeling of sparks… i don’t care how nice they are i won’t be putting out, thats not to say i wouldn’t give someone i felt attraction for who didn’t make me swoon a chance, in fact i’d agree that it had more of a chance as you wouldn’t be so blinded by the superficial cover of a parcel. 2-3 years though no chance… More like a few months for me I don’t think guys like starving for water for 2 – 3 years and i’m not putting out till there is a ring on my finger with a man at my feet begging for it, after all i am a man magnet and he’s a man or a horse thats been drinking piss and dying for some water, when women realise that they are the fountain, they won’t take crap from no one. A horse who’s had piss and had water but traded in water for piss and went starving for a while will fall over him self to be with a lovely fountain. Gosh i wish that people would just get over the idea that its about trying and just get on living and enjoying them selves. Its horrible when i see people trading them selves in for piss and not water. By water i mean good o’l fashioned love. Where the guy can’t do enough for you and you love him for it and let him no without all of these stupid games. Just tell the hangers on or the piss drinkers to go somewhere else and just tell them that there is only love on tap here so they either get on with it or piss off.   At least by the 3rd date know for gods sake where you are both from where you’re going to and what you’d like out of life. Don’t give him a sip from your cup until you know… Save yourself the flaming heartache, its not worth it, regardless of how much like David flaming Beckham he looks or Keanu or who ever you built a picture of as a good looking = fantastic dream boat….  

    1. 26.1
      Evan Marc Katz

      @Nom de Plume – I would suggest that your 18 months max rule is based on your needs, not men’s needs, and, as such, bears little weight in the reality-based community.

      Then again, given all the “crap” and “piss” in your post, I think that your stance on marriage is the least of your issues.

      1. 26.1.1

        Evan, why would you respond to this nonesense?

  7. 27

    Evan – I’m a loyal reader of your blog, but a very infrequent commenter.   However, I just had to respond to this blog because it is so spot on.   I am currently in a relationship with the most wonderful man, who I definitely wasn’t “wowed” by on our first, second, third dates.   But, I was determined to do things differently this time and I stuck to your lessons in “Why he Disappeared” and “Finding the One Online” and saw this one through.   Why?   Because he did everything you said a quality boyfriend does – followed up immediately after our first date saying he wanted to see me again, wanted to be exclusive after a month, makes me and my needs a priority, is easy (I’m the one with the more “difficult” personality – I LOVED your blog post addressing that concept, by the way), etc., etc…..   It’s almost 8 months later and we’re talking marriage and a future – a place I NEVER thought I would be.   Like many of the other commenters here, a million thank you’s for all that you have done.   You have truly made a huge difference in my life.
    Wishing you and your family a happy, healthy 2012!

  8. 28
    nom de plume

    @Evan Marc Katz if a guy isn’t interested in providing for your needs i guess he better get his needs met else where without trying to make a fountain a place to piss. Either he respects her as a fountain of love or he pisses off. Its really simple, you state, he states, either you do or you don’t why should it be any skin off of anyones noses now that you have told everyone what men are really all about?

    and of course its reality for what is real for one is real or haven’t men worked that out yet?  

  9. 29

    My husband Jake proposed after almost five years (though we eloped right away) – I knew he was different from other guys on our first date but I don’t think I really felt secure until six months after we’d been married, either.   I think he knew after 2 years (which is when we moved in together, he didn’t want to live with anyone else until he knew he’d marry them) but waiting for confirmation didn’t hurt anyone.

  10. 30
    still looking

    [email protected]&29 –
    A woman can be a man magnet but don’t forget that magnets can repel as well as they attract.   When I meet a woman who thinks so highly of herself and expects me to be “begging for it” one word comes to mind — NEXT!  

  11. 31

    Excelent post again Evan! When I read your posts, the common  sense of everything you say hits home.
    I don’t know how many times I have had ‘that feeling’ with a man and ‘just felt’ he was right for me only to have it blow up in my face. Inevitably and always.
    I have changed the way I date due to your great advice and if I go out with someone and I have ‘that feeling’ I am taking a big step back and having another look at what is really going on. You’re right, ‘that feeling’ does mask a whole lot of red flags and I am seeing the pattern of where I have  been going wrong for a lot of years.
    I have met a couple of very nice men in the last  2 months and I have found without the overwhelming chemistry that I was hooked on for so long and always looked for in a man, it is much easier to see if he is kind, consistent and is treating me well. For that piece of information only I thank you Evan.

  12. 32
    nom de plume

    I agree with you on that score, its a union and not a one does this or that contest, at least i like to think of it as our primitive needs must be met for the long haul rather than the eye candy wow the worlds full of candy times of a teen ager. A woman and man should both have their needs satisfied in a partnership, not much point otherwise. If he doesn’t want to protect that wonderful creature of a woman that he’s got to look after and protect in that big cave man jungle out there he seriously needs to see a head doctor. She doesn’t have to be what ever the going term is these days for a super glam doll with pockets to match, although she does have to be an amazing woman, yet everywoman is that once they get clear with them selves. Thats what makes them a fountain. When a guy gets clear with him self i think you call it growing up or becoming a man, generally not swinging the tarzan snake around to every single jane and actually being a little more specific about who’s going to be shopping for your groceries and cooking your meals, and fast forward, holding your hand when your dying or choosing to put you in a nursing home or not and all of the other fantastic bits that happen in our not so advanced civilisation…. It really isn’t or we wouldn’t be having anything to say about the obvious situations people find them selves in today with relationships. Isn’t it surprising that you can pass a qualification in psychology and know nothing about human relationships between people you have one guide and one god to help you through it all. The god is now GOOGLE in 2011 – 12 GOD of ask a question and get an answer, and also self which says INTUITIVELY …. Ah… this looks exactly right exactly that piece of that puzzle… hmmm it all makes sense to me now… I think i’ll reprogram my beliefs and behaviours a little and get better results… You will never stop an orange being an orange though so don’t be hard on your self or the ones you are with to fit into some other ideal. Women are wonderful when they are empowered about them selves to adore them selves and tell you their needs and yes expect them to be met,,, Darn right. You expect yours met, sure you might not get them met all the time as most of the time one can handle their own needs yet when you are dealing with WOMEN. The fountain of emotion and heart and love don’t piss on a fountain.

  13. 33

    It’s great to read the responses on here, and I agree with EMK, but as a guy, I am also a little suspicious. My experience in dating (much of it online for what it is worth) is that women need to feel “chemistry” on the first date for there to be a second. This going by “chemistry” approach goes against what EMK is suggesting in his blog here. Yet most of the women are agreeing with EMK. Do most of the readers on here really have different dating habits from those of the general US female population?
    I have followed EMK’s blog to know that the female readers here do feel free to, and will indeed, express disagreement when that is what they feel.

  14. 34
    Soul Sister

    @Margaret 23

    I am a regular reader of the blogs too and sometimes post. However, I have to give Margaret some encouragement!!   I am 50 and have been dating a man I am crazy about for 5 months now.   I met him on Match and he is 52.   I came out of one of those “Love of my life” relationships with an old college boyfriend that was a chemistry filled, addictive, self-esteem eroding horror.   I thought I would never have that immediate chemistry again with anyone, and to be honest, I didn’t want it. Too damn scary and out of control.   I followed  lots of Evan’s free advice here that you can glean from his blog and also bought the ebook Why He Disappeared.   So I went back on match with a whole new attitude.   I did make a slight lie, I put 49 instead of 50 on my profile because so many men cut off at 50. I met with any man who I thought sounded normal and I had even a hint of attraction to, which  I never did before.   After about 3 months and probably 20 meet and greets, met my boyfriend.   I did think he was very attractive the first date but something happened on that 4th date – the chemistry did hit!!   And by then I was pretty sure he had good core values.   So right now I have it all, the great boyfriend, who did ALL THE THINGS EVAN TELLS YOU THEY SHOULD DO (and because of Evan I recognized them) and chemistry that rocks my world.  

    Margaret, please don’t give up!   This man may or may not be my future, but I feel like a teenager again and it is very fun.   We are not dead at 50 and there are many 40+ men who think we are still pretty darn hot…to them.   Good luck!!

    Evan, Happy New Year!   To an alpha  woman who had no brothers, no father, no uncles, and no grandfather, you are helping me make sense of men and what they need from women.   The woman my boyfriend sees today is a woman no man has ever seen, because I didn’t know they needed to see my softer side.  And boy does he respond well to that softer side 🙂        Thank you!  

  15. 35

    To Michael17, yes, EMK’s readers are different from the normal female population.   The information and advice he provides is completely different from the advice we get from our girlfriends or Cosmo or wherever.   It’s rather earth-shattering, confusing at first and takes loads of practice, which is why we keep coming back for more advice.   As a man, it would be common sense to you, but it is the opposite of how we are raised and programmed.   Find an EMK girl and you will find a refreshing new dating style.

  16. 36

    @Margaret 23   – I agree 100% with Soul Sister #23 – I am 55, met my fiancé on and he is 54……….wonderful man and we both feel like teenagers because we enjoy each other so much.

    My fiancé treats me just as Evan told us a wonderful man should – – and to think that I almost didn’t give this man a chance because many of his profile photos were not that appealing.   So much better in person and with a big Italian, warm, affectionate personality to match!

    Dating is not for the faint-of-heart……..and like anything in life – sports, employment, etc, you have to dust yourself off and get up again.

    2012 can be a wonderful year for you!

  17. 37

    Love this article!   Gives me hope…. Ready for the new year!

  18. 38

    Wonderful post. Thanks a lot, Evan.

  19. 39

    Absolutely agree. I do not have the “just know” feeling  with my current boyfriend. I didn’t really have much expectation on him cos I thought we  might not even  last for 6 months (based on my experience, the max life span of my past relationships).But now, we are into a year in relationship. This is the most comfortable & happiest relationship I’d ever had. Rather than saying, I do not have expectations. In fact, he meets my core needs, hence I have no urge of pursuing other desires (or expectations)  from the relationship.

  20. 40

    Thanks Jheart #36.
    In all fairness though, men are shallow in that we screen for looks. We tend to go by looks just as women tend to go by “chemistry”. That said though, we men tend to be easier to please at least once we are on a first date. Do we find you physically attractive? Do you seem into us? Do you seem like basically a good person? Do our lifestyles at least partially match up? Do you not come across as too needy or pushy? (As you can see, not much deep soul searching required to answer–we men really are simple.) Then we most likely will want a second date with you.

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